Kings, Knights, and Mates ... Oh My!

Aug 23, 2010, 4:47 PM |

Most of us are aware that a King with the help of a single knight cannot deliver mate. Some of us are aware that even with the help of a second knight, the King cannot force mate, but needs the help of his opponent. Here we see Black accommodating White by playing poorly and suffering his deserved fate:



However, did you know that K+N vs K+N can result in mate? True, though again it will take the help of one's opponent to carry out the deed. What is troublesome to some here is that the Live Chess server does not automatically adjudicate such a piece configuration as a draw. Indeed, FIDE rules support the Live Chess position by noting that " ... the game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves." Alas, since there is a possible series of legal moves by which one's opponent can be checkmated, a draw cannot be automatically awarded.

In Live Chess, you have several means of dealing with this dilemma: a) you can rapidly play for 50 moves without a piece capture or pawn move and claim a draw, b) you can - if such occurs - claim a 3-fold repetition of position, and c) you can get your opponent to agree to a draw. Sometimes these are not as easy to achieve as one would like. Having bonus time might work to one's favor to achieve any one of the above scenarios. If you're without bonus time and also low on clock time, getting the draw is more problematic, however.

Here we'll look for a legal series of moves whereby White mates Black's King in the K+N vs K+N material situation:


My goodness. Who woulda thunkit?